Australian First: Flourish Australia To Deliver Mental Health Program Funded By Social Benefit Bonds

Fri May 5, 2017

In an Australian first, Flourish Australia will deliver an innovative mental health program to enhance wellbeing for individuals in the community by drawing on private investment dollars to achieve tax-payer savings through reducing participants’ reliance on hospitals and other health services.

The Resolve Program is set to attract $7 million from private investment in social benefit bonds, with services to commence in October 2017.

The funds will help as many as 530 people in and around the Penrith and Orange areas with their mental health recovery journey.

The program will help individuals who have been hospitalised as a result of a severe mental health issue over extended periods, with each receiving recovery-orientated support for up to two years.

Flourish Australia was selected by the New South Wales Government to deliver the program, given its 60-years of experience delivering community-based services and supports for people with a mental health issue.

Complementing existing local mental services, the pillars of the Resolve Program are a residential program for periodic crisis care, community outreach support and a 24/7 ‘warm line’ offering after hours phone support to provide advice and support before a crisis situation arises.

Significantly, the services will be primarily delivered by Flourish Australia Peer Workers – people with a lived experience of a mental health issue who use their knowledge to help others on their recovery journey.

The program is intended to save the NSW health budget some $30 million dollars through reduced hospital admissions and reliance on other services.

Some of those savings will be channelled to private investors who back the program by purchasing social benefit bonds, with returns of about 7.5 percent per annum expected.

“Through the Resolve Program, Flourish Australia is embarking on an historic mental health partnership with the New South Wales Government,” Flourish Australia CEO Pamela Rutledge said.

“Enabling people with a mental health issue to live a contributing life without frequent hospital admissions is a win for social wellbeing, a win for taxpayers and now also a win for investors.

“A keystone of the program is utilising Peer Workers who provide hope and optimism from their own experience of living with a mental health issue.

“Flourish Australia is the largest employer of mental health peer workers in Australia, so we are well positioned to take on this challenge.”

Ms Rutledge added that getting the right help at the right time at community level was pivotal for many people with a mental health issue.

“The costly, isolating and stigmatising impacts of long periods in hospital can be avoided when community supports such as those offered under the Resolve Program are in place,” Ms Rutledge said.

“This program is about helping people with a mental health issue find, maintain and lead meaningful, independent lives in the community.”

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said it was a big step for the relatively new concept of social impact investing to be extended to improve mental health outcomes.

“We are proud to announce that NSW is once again at the forefront of finding innovative ways of tackling social challenges,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Social impact investment allows us to draw upon the expertise of the non-government sector and leverage financial support from the private sector to deliver better social outcomes for those most at risk in our community.”

The required $7 million for the program will be raised by Social Ventures Australia (SVA), a social purpose organisation that works with partners to improve the lives of people in need.

‘We are seeing considerable momentum around social benefit bonds, with governments across Australia recognising that this is an innovative and impactful way to support the most vulnerable members of the community while generating considerable savings for government and returns to investors,” SVA CEO Rob Koczkar said.

BACKGROUND FACTS

  • In 2012-2013 there were 28,600 NSW inpatient admissions for people with a mental health issue
  • Between 2012 and 2015, approximately 2,000 individuals spent between 40 and 270 days as a mental health inpatient in NSW each year
  • $1.8 billion of the NSW health budget in 2016-17 is allocated to mental health
  • Demands on the health system mean that many people with a lived mental health experience can’t access services and support, by which time hospital admission is required, sometimes resulting in cycles of discharge and readmission and worsening conditions
  • One in five people will experience a mental health issue in any given year, and close to one in two people will experience a mental health issue during their life

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: MATTHEW WATSON – 0417 691 884

Flourish Australia (formerly RichmondPRA) is a not-for-profit organisation providing support programs, employment, accommodation and hope for people with mental health issues in New South Wales and Queensland. Advocating community-based assistance, it is a leading mental health support provider that has been in operation for 60 years.